The Second City e.t.c.'s 43rd Revue: Grinning from Fear to Fear continues an open run, with many sold-out shows on the second floor of 230 W. North Ave. The troupe consists of returning cast member Andrew Knox and first-time ensemble members Atra Asdou, E.J. Cameron, Mark Campbell, Laurel Krabacher and Chuck Norment.
Norment ( pronouns: they/them/theirs )from Newport News, Virginiahave been in Second City's national touring company and was a featured performer in The Second City and NBCUniversal's Break Out Comedy Festival in 2016.
Windy City Times: Did you study comedy in Virginia?
Chuck Norment: Yes. I grew up in Southeast Virginia, so kind of close to the ocean. Around college time, I moved to Northern Virginia, closer to D.C. That's where I got into comedy. I actually came to Chicago during my junior year and did comedy at Second City. That's what sparked everything and now I have been doing it for about eight years.
WCT: What is the comedy scene like in Virginia?
CN: Not great. It's a lot of lawyers that live on Capitol Hill who want to do comedy as a hobby. People have fun, but don't take it as a serious craft.
WCT: What is the LGBT scene like there?
CN: There are a lot of cool bars and spaces in D.C. The oldest lesbian bar was in D.C., but it closed recently. I think queerness has opened a floodgate in the last few years with the verbiage. Lesbian spaces seem to be dwindling. Look at [former bar] T's, here in Chicago.
WCT: What does the title of the showGrinning from Fear to Fearmean?
CN: It's one of the more earnest shows I have seen at Second City in a long time. It's not very political, but dives into the heart and the anxieties one experiences day to day. We have a lot of view points on that stage. It's a show about anxiety and overcoming it. It's also about finding relief in the people you love and that love you.
WCT: So the cast writes the sketch show. Was there personal things in the show for you?
CN: Yes. I have a scene in the show called Treehouse and it's not based on real life, but instead an ideal situation where I would tell my parents that I am trans. They know that I'm gay, but they don't know that I'm trans, because that has been very hard for me to express to them. It's a scene of me and my dad in a treehouse where I'm telling him that I'm trans. It's a very vulnerable scene. I won't tell you how it ends.
WCT: Will audiences cry at the show? Isn't it supposed to be comedy?
CN: I think so. It's a show that you can laugh and cry. It tugs the heartstrings.
WCT: What are some other topics in Grinning from Fear to Fear?
CN: Sleepless nights is a thing and anxiety is in every single sketch.
There's a scene that Andrew Knox wrote that's a game-show scene. It's the brain keeping someone up all night. Your brain is the game host. It's a gamut of nonsense that your brain thinks of late at night when you are trying to fall asleep.
WCT: Are there other LGBT people in the cast?
CN: I'm the only one. I'm the first trans person to ever be on one of their stages. It is exciting that I can create a trail for other people.
WCT: How was touring with Second City in the past?
CN: I loved it. It was one of my favorite jobs because I got to be somewhere new almost every day. It was challenging sometimes because we would be in very small cities. The six of us would stand out so aggressively as city kids. We got to show people a perspective that they hadn't seen a lot. I would meet teens that hadn't come out yet and hadn't identified as being queer or trans. They would be very excited to see any kind of representation.
WCT: Are you still working for iO Theater on the side?
CN: Yes. I have done tons of shows at iO. Now I do a lot less because of Second City. I perform with their shows Virgin Daiquiri and Meridian. I did a lot of improv shows there.
A while ago, I ran a show called Gender Is a Drag. It was a gender queer variety show. I would bring in drag queens and other queer comedians in the scene.
WCT: What do you like about Improv?
CN: The spontaneity of it and the fact I get to be other people. I get to live in weird, strange versions of myself. Being able to create something in the moment is always very exhilarating for me. There's no right or wrong way to do it.
WCT: How is it working with this particular Second City cast?
CN: Everyone is very professional. It makes you want to be better. Andrew Knox has done three revues and this the first review for the rest of us. I look up to him a lot and I like the way he performs. It's nice to have someone better than you to make you keep up and makes you better because of it.
WCT: Where would you like your career to go?
CN: I would like to write and star in my own TV show and eventually get a movie. That's the big goal.
I'm working on writing a pilot right now. In media, there's a lot of coming out stories and I want to stray from that. I want to create something that has comedic content, but is just about queer people existing. We don't get that very often. I think I can get good at that and create an avenue for it in the next five to 10 years.
For tickets to The Second City e.t.c.'s 43rd Revue: Grinning from Fear to Fear, visit SecondCity.com or call 312-337-3992.